While much emphasis has been put on stopping binge drinking on college campuses, much remains to be done for preventing underage drinking in general. According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking amongst college students decreased from 45% to 37% in recent years while drinking amongst 18 to 24 year-olds not enrolled in college has increased from 36% to 40%. While states and campuses can implement high-level strategies, more can be done at the point-of-sale level, meaning bars, night life events, and other such venues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive underage drinking is responsible for over 4,300 deaths a year. It also raises risk of illness, suicide, memory problems, and can even lead to abuse of other drugs. We offer the tips below to help venues and events prevent underage drinking.
Check IDs and Apply Wristbands at Entrances
Always have staff at the main entrances checking ID cards and issuing single-use wristbands such as Tyvek, plastic, or vinyl bands. This way, your staff in the venue can properly and easily identify who can be legally served alcohol. If you choose to implement custom wristbands with your design and logos, they cannot be easily counterfeit—unlike ID cards.
Deploy ID Scanning Machines
ID scanning machines can combat two issues that are practically synonymous with underage drinking. First, they can check for ID authenticity and screen fraudulent or fake IDs. This alone can greatly help filter out low-quality fake IDs. Secondly, more advanced machines can record who enters, allowing you to track patrons that pass through the entrance and thus preventing sharing of ID cards amongst themselves.
Restrict Alcohol Serving Locations
Implement designated points-of-sale where alcohol can be served and limit admittance to those areas. For instance, designate one station that can serve alcohol and fence it off so that only patrons with over-21 wristbands are allowed to enter.
Offer Non-alcoholic Beverages
While it is nearly universal for over-21 bars and clubs to offer water for free, it should be doubly true for mixed-age venues. Underage patrons should have access to non-alcoholic beverages, giving them alternatives to drinks.
Train Staff to Carefully Check Wristbands
After patrons have been given wristbands, serving staff should be aware what they denote. Venues such as theme parks or bars and nightclubs sometimes deploy multiple wristband styles to patrons, guests, staff, media, and more. This makes it more difficult for staff to quickly spot over-21 wristbands on the fly, so emphasis should be on properly training serving staff on what authorized drinking age wristbands look like. For added security, staff can re-validate ID cards at serving locations in order to prevent underage drinking.
Image by City Foodsters via Flickr.